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Senior Citizen's Guide to Philadelphia

Volunteer Opportunities in Learning Institutes

Do you want to reawaken skills you’ve let go by the wayside or explore something new and exciting? Do you want to be with people like you – same age, same lifestyle or interact with people of varying ages, cultures and races? Then you need to think about getting involved in lifelong learning. Many baby boomers are returning to the classroom at universities and colleges throughout the United States and finding that college can be different!

In some cases adults are returning to learning at an institute of learning associated with a college or university. Depending on the institution, the name could be the Academy for Lifelong Learning, Center of Learning in Retirement, College of Seniors or one of the over 100 Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. What all of these operations have in common, are their members, who are looking for an opportunity to stretch their knowledge at a period of their life when they get the chance to take the time to study and learn in-depth. Many describe the opportunity to learn as one that is more than just learning – it is learning, connecting and working.

What is critical for each of these institutes of learning is that they have volunteers to help plan the curriculum, solicit new members, teach classes and become committee members. In most cases “volunteerism” is central to the mission of the learning entity. The volunteers help the operation maintain their costs. By relying on volunteers to teach and organize, there is less need for administrative help, and the overall price of the learning opportunity can be kept down.

The skills members bring to the institute can be put to work in a variety of ways. Did you write or edit in your former work life? Offer to work on the newsletter or catalog. Did you plan events? Offer to become part of a hospitality committee that sets up social events for the members. Do you enjoy meeting new people? Offer to become part of the membership committee and work on greeting new members. Regardless of your skills, there is bound to be something that you can do for the learning institute.

Volunteers are expected to be prompt, dependable, take their job seriously and take initiative. For example, it is critical that the volunteers that serve on the Hospitality Committee attend meetings, arrive for the function on-time to ensure that the set-up and preparation are done prior to the beginning of the event, and that they take their job seriously, since the success of the learning institute is everyone’s job.

As a volunteer you should expect the administration of the learning institute to provide you clear and professional communication, appreciation for your time and effort, respect and necessary training. Each year, we hold an appreciation breakfast for our faculty (who are volunteers) as a special way of saying “thank-you” for a job well done.
Multiple avenues of learning are available to baby boomers today. Research the information in your region. Then join, learn, and volunteer. You can become a key component of the success of any learning institute and your skills will be appreciated!

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